Paris nightmare ends with deaths of three gunmen, four hostages
PARIS // Police launched near simultaneous raids at two hostage situations around Paris yesterday, killing three gunmen and ending three days of escalating tension following the killing of 12 people at a magazine office on Wednesday.
Four people held at a grocery shop were killed and four others injured in an early evening raid, an official at the Elysee Palace said, just hours after they were taken hostage by a man claiming links with the two suspects in the magazine killings.
Brothers Cherif Kouachi, 32, and Said, 34 – French-born sons of Algerian parents – were killed by special forces at the premises of a printing business in the town of Dammartin-en-Goele, where they had holed up with a hostage since morning after a chase by police.
Anti-terrorism police sealed off the small town – about 12 kilometres from Charles de Gaulle airport – and a convoy of police lorries, helicopters and ambulances travelled there earlier in the day, as a local member of parliament told media that the pair had told police by telephone that they wanted to die as martyrs.
In eastern Paris, meanwhile, Amedy Coulibaly, 32, took shoppers hostage at a kosher grocery just before sundown, when the market would have been busiest before the Jewish Sabbath. The gunman had threatened to kill the hostages if French authorities launched an assault on the two brothers, police said.
Coulibaly told the French news channel BFMTV he had “coordinated” with the Charlie Hebdo killers and was a member of the extremist group ISIL, while Cherif Kouachi told the station they had been financed by Al Qaeda in Yemen.
Coulibaly and his girlfriend Hayat Boumeddienne, 26, were wanted for questioning in the roadside killing of a policewoman in a suburb south of Paris on Thursday, police said.
Police say they are searching for Boumeddienne.
Paris became a city under siege, with heavily armed security forces fanned across the city to guard schools, landmarks and transport.
The mayor’s office ordered the closure of all businesses in a corridor of shops in the city’s famed Marais district that are usually crowded with French Jewish shoppers and tourists alike. In Dammartin-en-Goele, residents were asked to stay indoors as helicopters hovered overhead. More than 1,000 schoolchildren were evacuated. Flights from Charles de Gaulle were rerouted.
Police said nine people linked to the Kouachi brothers had been detained for questioning in several regions.
In all, 90 people have been questioned for information on the attackers, many of them witnesses to Wednesday’s assault on the satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo, in which 12 people were killed, interior minister Bernard Cazeneuve said.
Tens of thousands of French security forces were mobilised to prevent a new terror attack.
Paris police, national police, the General Directorate for Internal Security and others have led the counterterrorism operation this week, according to Stephanie Pezard, a French security policy expert at the Washington-based nonprofit security group RAND. That includes an elite force specialising in hostage situations and combating terrorism, known as Research Assistance Intervention Dissuasion.
The attack on Charlie Hebdo was apparently in retaliation for cartoons of the Prophet and critiques of Islam published in the magazine. The editor, Stephane Charbonnier, and four cartoonists well known in France were killed in the attack. Two police officers were also killed.
Said Kouachi’s identification card was found in the getaway car that was found abandoned in northern Paris about four kilometres from the magazine’s ofices .
A hunt for the Kouachi bothers concentrated in the Picardy region in the north of France on Thursday after police found another hijacked getaway vehicle abandoned in the area.
Friday morning, shots were fired as the suspects were chased by police in the village of Dammartin-en-Goele after hijacking a car, before the Kouachis retreated to the print works building with their hostage.
Charlie Hebdo staff plan a print run of one million copies instead of the controversial magazine’s usual 60,000, with the support of journalists from other French media outlets.
Updated: January 10, 2015 04:00 AM